American girl goes to Paris. Meets charming French man. Falls in love with Monsieur Right and French cuisine. Lives happily ever after. Yes, this may sound like the plot of a Hollywood movie, but welcome to Elizabeth Bard’s life. Her new memoir Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes is chock full of engrossing prose and tasty meals. (Click here to read my review of the book.)Elizabeth told moi, "there's a lot I've discovered in France - not just about effortless chic, but about how we as women can make better choices - pleasure and ambition, love and self." Although she has been busy traveling the world on her book tour, Elizabeth generously agreed to share a few of her favorite places in the City of Lights. Let her picks guide you to a great meal in Paris, or maybe even a romance of your own. Ooh la la!
PS. Elizabeth will be making an appearance at Barnes & Noble (Tribeca, NYC) on Weds. April 7 at 7:00 pm.
To Buy the Perfect Little Black Dress – Galeries Lafayette. They have everything – and if you don’t find your little black dress, you can go shopping for a hot red lipstick underneath the breathtaking stained glass dome. If you want some color – go try one of the raw silk wrap dresses from Antoine et Lili. For browsing – I’d hit the small streets around rue du Dragon and rue de la Cherche Midi in the 6th.
For a Night Out with the Girls - I find ice cream inspires girl talk better than alcohol – get yourself a double scoop of Berthillon on the Ile Saint Loius. Cacao Amer (bitter dark chocolate sorbet) is my favorite.
For a Romantic Dinner - Picnic on the tip of the Ile Saint Louis.
To Take Out of Town Guests - We usually end up at L’Homme Bleu – a terrific Moroccan place, for tagine. We are lacking a favorite French place at the moment (ours changed hands a few years ago), but we often take people to Chez Denise near Les Halles – it’s one of the holdouts from the area’s market days – in fact, it used to be a brothel. The portions are huge (I love the cote de boeuf and the lapin au moutard), but save room for dessert – they make the best baba au rhum in Paris! The place is very well known, you should book – and you’ll probably be eating with an equal number of tourists and locals.
For Something Sweet - Ladurée for macaroons (I’m a purist, so I tend to stick with vanilla, lemon, pistachio, and orange flower water (fleur d’oranger). Jean Paul Hevin for hot chocolate – it’s a quick walk from the Louvre, the tearoom is just above the shop. The hot chocolate is divine, and it’s much less crowded and touristy than Angelina’s. La Bague de Kenza – This Algerian bakery makes the best North African pastries in Paris. Choose in the boutique and have your pastries delivered to the tearoom next store.
For Cocktails - I’m not a cocktail drinker in Paris – plant yourself at any sidewalk café with a glass of wine and watch the world go by. My neighborhood, along the Canal Saint Martin, is great for going out…if you like hipsters and men who haven’t shaved…
To Connect with Nature - The Buttes Chaumont is my favorite park in Paris. Sculpted from the ruins of one of Napoleon III’s old gypsum quarries, it has rolling hills, a man-made lake (complete with swans), and a fake waterfall.
To Connect with the Past - I’m a museum fanatic – but I prefer to have the place all to myself. The Louvre is open late on Wednesday evenings – and it’s completely empty! If you haven’t been to the Musée Jacquesmart Andre, do go – it’s the mansion of a 19th century industrialist and his wife - much like the Frick collection in NY. Check out the hydraulic walls in the ballroom! There’s a great English Audioguide.
Where I Go to Unwind - The market – every neighborhood has an outdoor market on a different day of the week; it’s a Paris experience that shouldn’t be missed! The markets are open from 8am-1pm, so get up early, grab a croissant and an expresso in a local café – then do your shopping for a lunchtime picnic. Ask your hotel (or local café) which days you can expect a market near you.
To Learn Something New - When I’m searching for inspiration. I usually end up at Librairie Gourmande – the best cookbook shop in Paris. Most of the cooking supply stores are on this street as well, so you can pick up some madeleine molds etc. on your way…
If you are interested in art history and design (and speak fairly high level French) – the week long summer courses at the Ecole de Louvre are a great value. The focus can be as specific as Art Deco doorknobs or as broad as “Paris under Henri IV”.